Bogotá Bound

I’ve heard stories about Colombia all my life. Not the drug riddled danger zone of the 80’s & 90’s, but tales of living in a foreign land from my grandparents and aunt Lynn who lived there from 1959-1965.

My mom, aunt Lynn and grandfather in Bogotá 1959

My mom, aunt Lynn and Johnny Cash…um… I mean my grandfather… in Bogotá 1959

My grandfather was a manager at Owens Illinois Glass Company and went first to Bogotá and then to Medellín to build glass plants.   He was a captivating storyteller and would have us all in stitches about the crazy characters at work and their resourceful ways to fix almost anything.  I remember his story of the time he foiled the plan of a robber trying to steal their washing machine by hoisting it over their outer wall with a getaway cab waiting.  I lament that my grandfather isn’t alive to hear about our adventures on Neko, he would have loved it.   I find myself thinking about my grandparents a lot during our cruising and now relate to the obstacles they faced living in a foreign land.  Living in 1960’s Colombia without internet and with revolution always looming was definitely a greater hardship than traveling by sailboat with modern technology, but there are many similarities.   I remember my grandmother telling me how shopping for groceries became a whole day’s adventure and how she had to wash all the vegetables with bleach (Been there, done that).   And how she got by with only rudimentary Spanish thanks to the kindness and patience of the Colombian folks (hmmm…sounds familiar). They tried new foods, made new friends and turned what sometimes were difficult and frustrating times into positive lifelong memories. I cherish that example they set for me and I try to remember their great attitudes when we struggle with bureaucratic red tape, language barriers and improvised boat repairs.

My aunt, mom, family friends and grandmother up on Monserrate

My aunt, mom, family friends and grandmother up on Monserrate, 1959   Note everyone in skirts and dresses because it was forbidden for ladies to wear pants.


Enjoying the view up on Monserrate

56 years later, Peter and I enjoying the same view up on Monserrate, 10,000 feet above sea level (note the outerwear – our thin blood was not ready for this cold).

One of our objectives all along was to get to Colombia to honor their pioneering spirit. So as Peter and I found extra time during the rainy season, we decided to hop a plane to Bogotá.  Although it’s 50+ years from when my grandparents lived there, it was fun to see some of the things I had heard about. With great guidance from my Aunt Lynn and my Mom (who didn’t live there but visited enough to remember details), we set out to see what was still there and what had changed.

Grandparents house in 1960

Grandparents house in 1960

Their house is no longer there, but it seems they have kept the retaining walls

Their house is no longer there, but it seems they have kept the stone retaining walls

This is the spot where their house stood, now an apartment building

This is the spot where their house stood.


Sadly the house they lived in was torn down and replaced by a swank apartment building, but It does seem that the old stone retaining wall remains.  Peter and I had fun playing detective and finding their old, but much-changed neighborhood. I was hoping to see some 80 year old woman walking down the street who would have remembered them, but my life is not a movie, so off we went to explore the rest of of the city.   And what a vibrant city it is.



As always, click on a picture in the gallery below to rotate through the images.


Life in the Slow Lane

Well, we are overdue for some new content here, but the truth of the matter is that things have just slowed down a bit for us.  It is hurricane season in the Caribbean and, although we are out of the danger zone, it is incredibly rainy, hot and humid.  The weather just makes you lethargic.  We now understand the origin of “island time” and the need for siestas.   You can’t do much or move quickly in these conditions.  Surprisingly, however, it does cool down a bit on most nights and the heat doesn’t build back up until about 7:00am  (LOL, but no joke).  We sometimes take a stroll with Lucy on peaceful mornings. The surroundings are an abandoned US military base that is slowly and silently being reclaimed by the jungle.  It makes for good flora and fauna viewing.  So without further ado, here are some pictures we took on these walks.

Mama and baby sloth -slow lane experts

Mama and baby sloth -slow lane experts

Got a monkey on your back

Got a monkey on your back. White headed Capuchin monkeys

you lookin' at me?

you lookin’ at me?

Welcome to the jungle

Jungle reclaiming Fort Sherman

Is it a loop or a place?

I think every US military base has to have something named Kennedy.

Looks like ruins of an ancient temple.



Kiskadee. These are all over.



Even the monkeys just lounge about

Even the monkeys just lounge about. Howler monkeys


Good deterrent to climbing

Hanging birds' nests

Hanging birds’ nests

Howler walking

Howler monkey on the prowl. Some say they are the loudest land animal in the world.

wild flower

wild flowers abound


Hanging bird nest

another hanging bird nest


These look like vultures. They are quite large.


More monkey business


Agouti – sort of a cross between a wallaby and a rat. Sorry for the blurry photo but he was quick and we barely were able to shoot it.

Apart from the old military base and the jungle, there is nothing around for miles except the remnants of the 17th century Fort San Lorenzo.


Fort San Lorenzo guarded the Chagres River from pirates – and had a good view of it.

Fort San Lorenzo

Fort San Lorenzo


Fort San Lorenzo

Fort San Lorenzo

Manning the ramparts

Manning the ramparts

The old fort had a great view

The old fort had a great view

These cannons are just lying about. Dozens of them.

These cannons are just lying about. Dozens of them.